Deep into the heart of Pasadena, Maryland is Chesapeake Senior High School. While many athletes can be found there getting reps in the weight rooms and running drills on the basketball courts, there are a select few Cougars who make their home in one of the many pools underneath the giant bubble of the YMCA.
The Y in Pasadena is the home of the Chesapeake Cougars swim team, and it is where you can find 14-year-old freshman swimmer Natasha Paciello.
Although she has been swimming competitively since she was eight-years-old, Paciello faced many similar challenges that come with being a young high school athlete. Mainly, she needed to build up her strength to compete with the older, more experienced swimmers on the team and in the county. However, Chesapeake swimming coach Brian Nelson sees a bright future for the young swimmer.
“I think her combination of hard work, dedication, intelligence and raw ability make her a candidate for one of the upcoming swimmers in Anne Arundel County,” said Coach Nelson.
Coach Nelson knew she had the physical features of an outstanding swimmer. Her long arms, strong shoulders, and the flexibility in her ankles are all part of her “raw ability,” but it is her ability to listen and be coached that really sets her apart and makes her an exceptional athlete.
“She listens to exactly what I tell her and is one of the rare athletes that can adjust technique changes right away.” Said Nelson.
Because of her physical gifts and her willingness to listen to her coaches, the future was closer than Pacielleo or Coach Nelson could have imagined.
Over the past two months, she has dropped seven seconds in the 100m fly, three seconds in the 100m breaststroke, one second off her 50m freestyle, five seconds off her 200m IM, and two seconds off her freestyle. If that isn’t impressive enough, all of this is happening while she is in the middle of strenuous strength training.
Swimmers are known for posting slower times during their strength training. While the muscles are healing, swimmers are continually struggling with mental and physical fatigue. That may have been enough to hold back some, but Natasha is an extraordinary swimmer, and the best was yet to come.
Despite all of the challenges she faced, Natasha swam her way into the record books. Last week, during her first race for Chesapeake in the breaststroke, she posted a time of 1:18.61, destroying the former school record of 1:20.10 that was held by Melissa Biggs. She also finished in first place in the 100m freestyle.
“I was really proud of myself,” said Paciello on breaking the school record, “I did not think I was going to be able to do that in my freshman year.”
Coach Nelson sees a bright future for this young swimmer and is setting the bar high. “I expect by her senior year, she will contending to break the school records in 50m free, 100m free, 100m fly, and 200 IM.”
That is pretty high praise when you consider most of those records are currently held by former division I NCAA swimmer Stephanie Downing.
We can expect a lot more from Paciello in the coming years, and AACO swimming records are officially on notice!
Categories: High School